Keeping up with Ricky

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:24 AM ET

Ricky Ray expects to get cut today. Or tomorrow. Sometime this week. Or next.

His brief NFL career as a clipboard carrier is about to come to a conclusion.

Chad Pennington will return from the injured list to be back as starting quarterback with the New York Jets, maybe as soon as Dec. 5. Ray will get cut. He'll be waived through the NFL. Twenty-four hours later he'll return to the Jets practice roster. And at the end of the season the gig will be up and he'll return to the CFL with the Edmonton Eskimos.

That's the most likely scenario.

But there's the potential of plenty of twists and turns in the hours and days ahead before all those Frito Ray fans in Edmonton will find out if they get their Grey Cup quarterback back.

"They said two to four weeks. We just got done with the two," said Ray, of when Pennington is expected to return to play.

Pennington definitely won't be back for this Sunday's game against Arizona.

I talked to Ray in New York yesterday before heading home from covering the Grey Cup, the game in which he was the winning quarterback a year ago.

But, what if Quincy Carter, who quarterbacked the last two games, gets injured? Will injuries hit some other NFL team at the position to inspire one of them to claim Ray from waivers and have him on the roster at the end of the season?

If that happens, if Ray ends up on somebody's roster at the end of the year, he'll get another year in the NFL.

NOT LIKELY MOVING

"I'd have 24 hours to pass through waivers. To go to another team is not real likely," said the QB, who has twice carried a clipboard but has not thrown a pass.

If he doesn't end up on a roster by the end of the season, the gig is up and he likely comes back to the CFL as a free agent.

"Of all the CFL teams, Edmonton would be my first choice," he said. "Edmonton is where I started and where I won the Grey Cup. I know the town."

That said ...

"Part of being a free agent is having a look around."

While all is warm and fuzzy with Damon Allen, the Toronto Argos Grey Cup hero at age 41, he's going to be 42 next season and when Dave Dickenson came back from the NFL, he took Allen's job in Vancouver. You'd expect the Argos to look at doing the same to Allen with Ray.

There's the thought that Ray would go anywhere but Edmonton, so as not to take the starting job away from his friend Jason Maas for a second time in his career. And there's also the idea that a coaching change in Edmonton could influence his decision. But Ray says neither of those things would be a factor.

"Jason and I are friends, so that would be tough, but you have to find the best situation for yourself. I have no problem with coaches. I get along with all my coaches. I'm one of those guys who just wants to go out and play. I'd be looking at the right situation where I'd have the best chance for success, of getting to the playoffs and being able to win in the playoffs."

FOLLOWING THE ESKS

Ray has followed the Eskimos all season, watching many of the games at his Long Island residence.

"They were real up and down. At times they were the team they know they can be and at times they weren't.

"I didn't get home from our game in time to catch any of the Grey Cup. But first thing I did was find out who won. I thought about the Grey Cup a little bit Sunday."

While there's the temptation to say 'told you so' to Ray, about not choosing the Warren Moon path of playing up here and succeeding up here to the point where they'd make him rich and guarantee him a starting spot to go to the NFL, his window is still open to have something happen.

For a guy like Ray, who doesn't have a great arm, great speed or great anything other than great gobs of football intelligence inside his helmet, if he doesn't get into games, he knows he's headed back to Canada.

"This wasn't what I planned on," he admits. "It's been really tough.

"I definitely wanted a chance to come and compete. The team decided they wanted experience for just the situation which happened in the last two weeks.

"It's tough. If I'd just come out of college, I'd probably have been really happy on the practice roster. But after two years of playing as a professional and having success ..."

Ray is down to hours or days from coming to the conclusion he wasted an entire year of his career.


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